Knock knock! Who’s there?
Hoo-hoo! It’s a new owl species, everyone!
The new species of Scops-Owl was found in the forests of Príncipe Island, Africa.
Although they are newly discovered, the species was already photographed in 2016. Additionally, researchers think that the owl has been in existence since the late 1920s, based on testimonies from the local people.
The new bird species is now officially named the Príncipe scops-owl or Otus bikegila.
A species description was made in an article published in the ZooKeys journal for the Príncipe scops-owl. Its scientific name, Otus bikegila, is in homage to a local ranger in Príncipe’s nature reserves, whose knowledge was key to the discovery of the new owl species.
“The name is also meant as an acknowledgment to local field assistants, all over the world, who often play a major role in the discovery of new species and sites for science,” said the researchers.
What also led to the discovery of this species was its unique call. A sample of it can be heard in the tweet below.
How to study little-known birds inhabiting difficult to access habitat, like the Príncipe Scops owl?
PAM and automated detection have been used as valuable survey techniques for birds, improving the quality and quantity of field data available pic.twitter.com/J3L9GY0mzR
— Bárbara Freitas (@brbbfreitas) November 5, 2020
“Otus bikegila has a unique call – a short “tuu” note, repeated at a fast rate of about one note per second, reminiscent of insect calls. It is often emitted in duets, almost as soon as the night has fallen. This call was one of the main clues that led to its discovery,” they said.
Sadly, even though the species is newly discovered, researchers are already proposing that they be listed as critically endangered. More about their conservation information can be found in another article published in the Bird Conservation International journal, written by the same team as the first one.
“Although it can be locally abundant, our data suggest that it classifies as ‘Critically Endangered,’ considering a likely scenario of decline, and its small range, restricted to a single location,” they wrote.
But there is a silver lining to the Príncipe scops-owl being endemic to this particular region.
“On a positive note, the area of occurrence of the Príncipe scops-owl is fully included within the Príncipe Obô Natural Park, which will hopefully help secure its protection.”